Police arrests, releases civil rights activist over allegations of bypassing energy meters

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Itohan Imade
The attempt by the Management of Benin Electricity Distribution Company ( BEDC ) to prosecute some members of Civil society in Edo state over allegations that they were involved in energy theft suffered a huge setback at the weekend.
The two persons simply identified as Comrade Kelly and Jonah, were accused by the company of compromising their metres in Government Reservation Area (GRA), in Benin and were arrested but granted bail also at the weekend.

The incident which reportedly occurred one month after N750 mandatory maintenance monthly fixed charge was reportedly abolished by the Federal government has set the civil society coalition in Edo against the distribution company.
Members of Edo State Civil Organizations (EDOSCO) along with some persons were said to have had confronted the Management of BEDC, informing them on their resolve to continually bypass their metres, pending the implementation of a subsisting High Court order and the Senate resolution barring the power companies in the Country from increasing their tariff.
Public Relations officer (EDOSCO), Comrade Osazee Edigin had on Friday last week called on the coalition of the willing and members of EDOSCO via his facebook wall at about 3:3pm to mobilise for defend their victims.
He said: “Attention Comrades, BEDC has arrested two of our Comrades because of bypass. All Comrades are to find their way to New Exeter Police station on Godwin abbey Way, Limit Road, now”.
Edigin who vowed to resit any form of BEDC intimidation and outright rejection of Electricity increase”, said “the ladder which was used for the bypass earlier taken to the police station, has been recovered”.
“Let them go to court they refused to carryout their orders if they want to disgrace themselves. The increase did not follow due process of the power sector reform act 2005”, he said the move has boosted their campaigns to the public to continually bypass their metres.
Besides, some members of the Civil society group in Edo state had gave the upward review of tariff by the DISCO “without a corresponding power supply to consumers”, especially in Benin City, as the major reason for the alleged civil disobedience, with a hash tag: “operation bypass your meters”.
Public Relations officer, BEDC, Mr. Adekunle Tayo, who confirmed the report, said BEDC did not order the arrest of the two persons, said, it was a case of illegal connection by two Electricity consumers in Benin that was reported to the police.
“We only reported a case of illegal connection to the Police and those involved were arrested. You are aware that those arrested have been bailed because it is a bail able offence”, he said.
The Management of the company had at different fora claimed to have lost millions of Naira arising from alleged energy theft by some unrepentant Electricity consumers; just as lamentations by helpless Electricity consumers over incessant epileptic power supply experienced in Edo, Delta, Ondo and Ekiti states directly under the control of BEDC continues

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